The 4th Circle: Interview with Josh Schlossberg

Interview by Desi D

  1. Name one author you admire and explain how they helped you become a better writer.

I know I should probably say someone like Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, or Shirley Jackson, but the author who influenced my writing the most is definitely John Steinbeck. (What’s funny is it’s recently been revealed that Steinbeck wrote a werewolf novel that’s never been published, and people are calling on his estate to release it!)

Steinbeck’s writing comes across as so simple it’s almost like spoken word, but it’s deceptive in that it’s no easy feat. And not only are his stories deeply meaningful, they’re timeless—as is his prose style which avoids the flowery, clunky sentence structure that dates so many “classic” authors. If a literate alien picked up Steinbeck’s work today, I bet it wouldn’t be able to tell if it had just been written or published centuries ago.

Of course, I’m not saying I’ve achieved close to any of this in my writing. But I think he’s been rubbing off on me and I hope I’m making some progress.

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The 4th Circle: Interview with John WM Thompson

-Interview by Desi D

1. What’s your favorite line in a book/movie? And why?

No singular favorite, but there are a few lines that drift through my mind unbidden every few weeks at most, and one of them is from Flannery O’Connor’s WISE BLOOD:
“Where you come from is gone, where you thought you were going to never was there, and where you are is no good unless you can get away from it.”

In a vacuum, I think it’s a perfect description of a character at the precipice of a well-told story, but in context, it’s how O’Connor cuts to the heart of certain spiritual desperation, despair, displacement. I’m captivated by stories of spiritually alienated and confused people and the way that confusion manifests as a kind of vague menace. You never know what a person who doesn’t know themselves will do.

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The 4th Circle: Interview with Ian Neligh

-Interview by Desi D

  1. What’s your favorite line in a book/movie? And why?

This is a hard one to pick—Frank Herbert’s DUNE has so many—but if pressed I’d say probably, “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed,” from the first book in Stephen King’s THE DARK TOWER series. As a reader it is almost impossible to read that line and not be instantly hooked into his dark and wonderfully bizarre fairytale. The line is intriguing, simple, and basically the plot of the novel boiled down into twelve words. The first sentence of a novel is important, and few know that as well as Stephen King.

  1. As a writer, how would you describe your fascination with history, specifically the Old West? And how does this inspire your story ideas?

For me, history is an endless source of writing inspiration. I suppose if I was living somewhere other than the American West, I’d find insight from other historic sources, but as it stands, the Old West is a perfect subject!

I love reading and writing about history but I’m also passionate about horror writing and the Old West was essentially a time of survival horror in the truest sense. It was a time where everyone and everything could kill you. And it really wasn’t that long ago; I recently interviewed someone who was the great-grandson of legendary frontiersman Kit Carson.

The Old West, after the Civil War, became this country’s shared mythology to help heal its division. That shared mythology (for better or worse) runs through a lot of our country’s psychology, which from a storytelling perspective is extremely insightful.

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The 4th Circle: Interview with Brenda Tolian

– Interview by Desi D

  1. What attracted you to write horror?

BRENDA: Horror, for me, is a way to explore in safety the oddity of what it means to be a woman. Often, it’s unclear the roles we are retrofitted into and often in opposition to actual reality that resides inside.

Trauma is something that each woman has experienced in differing ways, and we try to make sense of it. Horror is, for me, the best medium to express that. We are stepping into the abyss and symbolically cutting out meaning to that which escaped definition or seeks understanding. Naming the monsters is the ultimate power over them. Horror calls us to be creative, and women are fine-tuned to be creators.

  1. As a writer, how would you describe your muse? And your process?

BRENDA: The Red Monk wrote that, “Anyone who confuses his Mistress for his Muse is in real trouble.” A writer shared that with me once, and so I decided that I would do away with both in a sense.

My stories are driven by research, news, oral tales, and experiences; I suppose if I have a muse, he or she is in a box somewhere hopelessly forgotten under my bed. My process is rigid, I teach during the week, and my weekends are spent writing. I am an introvert and find more pleasure in hours of writing than socializing. I start early, around 5 a.m., and work till at least one in the afternoon, if not longer. I submit regularly and accept the decline notes as a challenge to improve. I read as much as I write in differing genres finding that this helps the process.

  1. Who has been your biggest inspiration for writing horror? And why?

BRENDA: I have a T-shirt I wear that simply says Nabokov, Kafka, Stephen Graham Jones, if that tells you anything. I also adore the writing of Owl Goingback and Mario Acevedo. I find that I am inspired by my intellectual conversations with Joy Yehle and Adrianne Montoya, both strong in the ways of horror. They, along with Stanley Wiater, helped me think about my graduate research into the topic of women within horror.

In some ways, however, my biggest inspiration comes from my twin daughters, who have taught me how to be strong and pushed me to do everything possible to pursue writing and education. So, for me, it’s not a who but communities of writers such as Denver Horror Collective and Regis University that inspire me in my work.

  1. What is it about the art of storytelling that excites you? And, of course, what is the next story we can look forward to reading from you?

BRENDA: The art of storytelling is the power of voice. So many are voiceless, and their stories are buried in the news, time, or within. As women, we are not always allowed to speak our truth or are victimized for doing so. The female body endures violence often in silence, so writing is a way to touch the cuts symbolically. I also attempt to give voice to nature that is often ravaged in similar ways to the female vessel.

My “Blood Mountain” story is, of course, in DHC’s CONSUMED: TALES INSPIRED BY THE WENDIGO. And just last week, another story, “Snake Man” came out in TWISTED PULP MAGAZINE. Currently, I am finishing my collection of “Blood Mountain” stories about, which, as it happens, is also my graduate thesis. I will be presenting academic work at the Southwestern Popular/American Culture Convention and Stoker Con this spring. I also have a hybrid novella in final edits, and hope to find a home for my “Blood Mountain” collection when it is defended and finished.

The 4th Circle: Interview with Joy Yehle

DHC active member Joy Yehle
  1. What’s your favorite line in a book/movie? And why?

“There’s little good in sedentary small towns. Mostly indifference spiced with an occasional vapid evil–or worse, a conscious one.”
– Stephen King, Salem’s Lot.

I like to imagine the dark in everyday situations and in the unexpected evil right next door. To me, nothing is scarier than an evil that can walk around in the light, nowhere is safe. Stephen King eloquently lays that out here. Small, quiet towns are supposed to be safe, but what if they’re not?

  1. As a writer, how would you describe your muse?

I think my muse is a bizarre crossbreed of an evil sorceress, a shaman, a serial killer, a terrified five-year-old, a vampire hunter, a scientist, and a Sunday school teacher. Not complicated at all!

  1. What author has been your biggest inspiration to your writing? And why?

My great uncle Will C. Minor was a naturalist and author. We visited him over many summers, and I saw how he created these amazing things to share with his words and a typewriter. In my eyes, he was the original Indiana Jones and I wanted to be just like him. I love the outdoors and do my best writing there, however my writing took a much darker turn than wildlife stories.

  1. What is it about writing that excites you? And of course, what’s the next story we can look forward to reading from you?

I love creating a whole world out of nothing. I feel truly free when I let my imagination run wild across the page. My most terrifying and exciting thing, however, is watching the face of a person who reads my stuff and hits that ‘What?!’ moment of scare!

I’m working on two novels and a couple of short stories right now. One novel is a dystopian YA that reality has possibly derailed! The other novel is inspired by a spooky childhood story I was told about a dark entity that feeds on despair titled Malvado, I hope to have this one ready for release by the end of the year.

The 4th Circle: Interview with Sean Murphy

DHC Active Member, Sean Murphy
  1. Name one horror author you admire and explain how they helped you become a better writer.

I admire Stephen King. I read On Writing and that seemed to speak to me. I found inspiration in it and in his story.

  1. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot and why?

I like writing horror based in medicine and science, so I’m going with a plague doctor (current situation notwithstanding). I like the gothic look of a traditional doctor. Plus, they are wicked creepy!

  1. Name six of your favorite horror movies or books. Elaborate on any of them.

Books: It – Scared the crap out of me and I read it as an adult. Dracula – Classic story and character. Love it! Illustrated Man – Not traditional horror, but still a great and creepy story.

Movies: The Thing – Best. Movie. Ever. Salem’s Lot – First horror movie I watched. It holds a special place in my heart. Paranormal Activity – The movie I used to introduce horror to my boys, who were 9 and 7 at the time. We watched it as a family, and they still remember it and the nightmares.

4. What is it about writing that excites you? And of course, what’s the next story we can look forward to reading from you?What is it about writing that excites you? And of course, what’s the next story we can look forward to reading from you?

I get excited by new ideas and new spins on current stories. I love trying new things and bringing horror elements to genres that may not be typical horror setting; they don’t always work, but it’s worth a shot! I have two more short stories I’m working on, a WWII story and another short. I’m trying to get a novel idea to form, but it’s a slow road.

The 4th Circle: Interview with KD Webster

Denver Horror Collective active member, KD Webster
  1. Name one horror author you admire and explain how they helped you become a better writer.

Prior to joining the DHC I’d only read two horror books. The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson, when I was around ten years old, scared the crap out of me. To this day, I still can’t read that book. The other was The Entity by Frank De Felitta. I was a teenager at the time. It was about a spirit-like creature that kept stalking a young single mother with three children. It attacked her night and day, but no one could see the creature but her. No one believed her either. Even as an adult this story stays with me.

Now that I’m a seasoned writer (with all of a year under my belt), I’ve been more engaged in reading more with an emphasis on the stories than the authors, with a hope that one writer will stick with me enough to read more.

  1. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot and why?

I’d choose a raven. For two reasons, one it represents both genres I write in, horror and fantasy. In horror, the raven is associated with terror, creatures of the night, and Edgar Allan Poe. And we all know Poe, right?

And in my fantasy series the main character is part of a team called the Revyns (pronounced as Ravens), the team’s logo is the outline of a blackbird’s wings.

  1. Name six of your favorite horror movies or books. Elaborate on any of them.

The Nun…made me sleep with the light on (yeah, I said it).

The Blair Witch Project…I grew up hiking and playing in woods just like those.

Paranormal Activity…to me it looked so real!

The Amityville Horror…I read the book as a kid, by myself, at night. Creepy.

It (the original movie)…because they all float down here!

The Descent…one of the most original horror movies I’d seen at that time.

4. What is it about writing that excites you? And of course, what’s the next story we can look forward to reading from you?

The evolution of the story, from birth to maturity. The spark that inspires the idea. The idea that molds the plot. The plot that forms the story. I have a few things in the fire, but in terms of horror, I have two that stand out.

One is the next installment of the Urban Legends, Electric Avenue. It takes place in a speakeasy type place with underground card games, pool, and dice games. The speakeasy moves from place to place. Most people don’t think it exists, that it’s an urban legend. But if you want to play a game where the reward is worth the risk, dear ole Scratch can get you an invitation.

The other is the next book in the Adrian’s Children series. For those that don’t know, Adrian’s Children tells the ongoing story of Adrian Crisp, set in a modern-day world where Crisp is the first vampire. The first book tells the tale of how Adrian became a vampire, his trial and errors in creating more vampires, and the ones he successfully turned. The second book focuses more on his vampire children, and his plans for creating even more. Starring: Prominent, the first successfully turned Dark Child. Then Ozymandias, who Adrian banished to a cave. Daniel Hosea, the journalist chronicling Adrian’s life as a vampire. And finally Jason March, a former marine turned cop. He’s been hunting Adrian from his escape from prison before his transformation into a vampire.

Okay. Time to get back to writing.

The 4th Circle: Interview with Angela Sylvaine

Denver Horror Collective active member and Terror at 5280′ contributor, Angela Sylvaine
  1. Name one horror author you admire and explain how they helped you become a better writer.

Though I didn’t begin writing until I was in my mid 30s, my love of horror blossomed with reading Christopher Pike in Junior High. When I started writing, I initially tried to write in more of a literary style, and I tried genres that just weren’t a good fit for me (contemporary, romance, science fiction). I realized I needed to embrace writing what I enjoyed rather than trying to meet the expectations of others. It was my love of Christopher Pike that helped me realize young adult horror was my passion, and when I gave myself permission to write this instead of worrying about the judgment of others, I started enjoying myself and saw more success in selling my work.

  1. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot and why?

My immediate instinct is to say a cat, but I think that’s just because I love them. Really, I think my mascot would be a crow or raven. They’re black, and I love wearing black. They’re intelligent and adaptable, which I strive to be. They’re also loud, which I definitely am. They hold funeral rites for deceased crows and a group is called a murder, which is just generally spooky. I also loved Poe’s poem “The Raven” from the first moment I read it, and even named my first cat Lenore. Now if only I could learn to fly…

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6(66) Questions with Jeamus Wilkes

– Interview by Linnea Linton

jeamusJeamus Wilkes is a Denver Horror Collective member, host of Jeamus After Midnight Podcast, and editor of The Epitaph.

1. Name one horror author you admire and explain how they help you become a better writer?

Peter Straub. Straub helps me become a better writer because of his beautiful use of language blended with professional execution of creating dread and scenes of absolute terror. His work is un-commercial in the best possible way, yet utterly accessible in readability and makes my imagination’s flesh crawl like no other writer. It helps me become a better writer in knowing that I can aim for the story first, and cut the commercial crap right out. His novel Shadowland is probably my favorite book I’ve ever read, and I read it at least once a year.

2. What author did you dislike at first but grew into?

H.P. Lovecraft. I think I associated his name too much with gaming and protracted paragraphs (that sounds like a swipe at gaming culture when it really isn’t; at one time I just felt like Lovecraft’s world was over-appropriated in it), but when I revisited his work a few years ago I came to appreciate it on my own terms and made my own discoveries in his work. He’s a controversial figure, but—at this point, at least—I’ve decided to appreciate the artist. Chew on the meat and spit out the bones, to use a blunt horror metaphor.

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